I get it.

It is a consumer’s right to have access to their medical records.  God forbid some physician denies you that right. We are obligated under some vague government penalty to allow you to do so.

 So now what?  What do you do with them?  What happens when you find some abnormality in your lab work?  What is that abnormality on your CT scan?  What is that dark hole on your endoscopy report?  You will panic.  You will search the internet, frantic to understand specific medical terminology, you will make yourself crazy with fear.  You will call me in my office in panic.  What is this? What does that mean?  What is that shadow? Is that a mass on my colonoscopy photo?  And now it is up to me and my office staff to undo what has been done.

 WE need to do this together—in the first place!  This is why I don’t routinely offer photos of my patients colonoscopy/endoscopy reports until I see them in my office……so I can explain what they are looking at!

 And yet I am not following the new guidelines.  I should be handing everything to you without comment.  But then we have the problem of trying to explain it all to you.  

So please.  Let us do this together.  I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you have.

 Thank you for your consideration. Its better for both of us.

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT — Woody Allen, Metaphysician

I have always been an enormous fan of Woody Allen’s films.  Even his less than stellar creations are worth viewing and as a body of work there are few in his league.  I was particularly fascinated by this summer’s Magic in the Moonlight.

 I will not attempted to critique the film as such.  I am strictly an amateur on the subject.  But I am a devotee of metaphysics– the field that seeks to comprehend the nature of reality.  Woody (I feel I can freely refer to him as such) has touched upon such themes as the nature of life, death, the soul, the existence of God, the “unseen world” in many prior films.  But here he addresses it directly through the character played brilliantly by Colin Firth.

 As a magician (Woody as well) he is a master of illusion.  He understands the gullibility of mankind, their need, even desire to believe in more than this physical world.  Yet as the ultimate skeptic he is capable of debunking the fraudulent perpetrators of such scams.  To summarize all too briefly, he becomes the victim of a scam himself and begins to believe in the afterlife and the power of the Emma Stone character to truly communicate with a spirit realm.

 In the end all is exposed and our skepticism renewed and validated.  Woody, the ultimate romantic, seems to feel that love is capable of transcending rank cynicism.  But to me he still wrestles with the metaphysical questions.

 I, too, was the ultimate nonbeliever.  Yet my experiences with mediums and ordinary individuals has led me to understand that there is evidence for a spiritual domain (see my book and various prior postings).

 I do not claim to understand the depth of this world.  I am a total novice, but I do believe an open-minded skeptic can explore this area on their own and eventually come to their own conclusions.

 I’m sure Woody is still in hot pursuit of the ultimate truth.  I’d love to share what I have learned with him and make suggestions for his own exploration.  In either case I wish him well.

MANAGING A CHRONIC DISEASE — Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

I am presenting here the Israeli / Palestinian conflict in terms of a medical analogy.  It is a chronic disease.

In medicine we attempt to cure/resolve/ eradicate disease states.  Our goal is the elimination of the pathological process which has produced the illness.  However, there are diseases which (based on the present state of medical knowledge) may NEVER be cured.

Known as chronic diseases, they are, at best, “managed”.  This often requires significant doses of medication.  It requires frequent re-evaluation.  Sometimes it requires hospitalization to deal with deterioration of conditions. Sometimes there is pain and suffering which must be endured. It can result in a life which is less than ideal but still valuable and meaningful.  And so, life goes on.  

 Just listening to Palestinians being interviewed regarding their attitude towards Israel and Israelis brings little hope of reconciliation.  Raised on hatred, they  are still  willing and ready to sacrifice their children as martyrs to destroy Israelis.  They do not recognize that the State of Israel even exists.  It is all Palestine, and in their eyes, time is on their side.  Only the dissolution of the country of Israel and the death of its Jewish inhabitants will do.

 Now considering the historical fact of continuous Jewish survival in the face of adversity, and the powerful IDF, I will boldly venture out on a limb and state that Israel will not self-destruct.  And furthermore, the Palestinians will continue to pay a disproportionate toll if fighting persists. 

 So we have an incurable process.  Like a chronic disease the only solution is to manage it as best as possible.  And meanwhile Israelis continue to do so with an energy and zest for life which is quite remarkable. They continue to live, to thrive, to have a culture, to do science and business and music and art.  Palestinians have no culture other than hatred.  Do they make art? music? science? medicine?  It is a waste of human potential and that hurts us all. But their hatred blinds them to all else.   Their chronic disease ravages them.

 What Palestinians don’t understand is this– the vast majority of polled Israelis don’t hate them.  They may hate their refusal to face the reality of Israeli existence, their continual harassment of Israelis and their perverted sense of moral outrage and religious fundamentalism. 

 So the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will persist like a chronic disease.  It seems as if it will never be cured because their is no grounds for civilized compromise.  Meanwhile Israel has lived with this chronic disease not only since its inception 66 years ago, but as Jews with the chronic disease of rapid anti-Semitism for more than two millennia. Who will deal with their disease better? 

PULLING BACK FROM ANGER – In the Face of Danger

The recent/ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict and the world-wide jihadist movement which threatens us in the US as well has engendered a degree of reactivity and anger within me that I recognize as self-defeating.

The tragedy of anger is just that–it produces a self-perpetuating cycle of hatred.  I notice how it makes me feel.  There is a temporary feeling of power, self-congratulatory sense of control then followed by a darkness which brings out the worst in human emotion. And quite frankly, I don’t like it.

Let’s be clear about this.  We are alll capable of hurting others.   It originates in the desire to live, to defend against perceived aggression.  Kill or be killed.  Without this instinct, quite frankly, none of us would be here today.  But we need to recognize that dark side of ourselves.  

 I want to make clear that I am not an apologist for all Israeli decisions regarding settlements, Palestinian rights, etc.  But when Hamas speaks of annihilating Jews (not Israelis)  I react as if personally threatened.  It is in the DNA of every Jew.  That righteous indignation feels powerful, for the moment.  But its dark side can paralyze as well.  It is hard to write poetry, or feel truly at peace.

Just look at what radical Islam has done to Islamic culture.    When all energies are focussed on hatred, revenge, war– there is nothing left for civlized life.

 And on the level of the individual, hatred drives away the ability to recognize beauty in the world around us.  When young children are encouraged to die in martyrdom their potential as human beings is crushed.  It is tragedy of epic proportions. Where are the outcries from the UN, from human rights groups, from the political left?  Only silence.

So how do we balance the ability to remain vigilant against true evil, those who wish our death and destruction, while remaining open to live’s blessings?  We must look to Israel.  In the face of a continuous threat of war and annihilation,  they embrace life in its entirety.  The Jewish  tradition which affirms life, not death.

They have science, technology, business and  culture.  Like a viable culture they contribute to the world beyond themselves.  They are not bunkered down.  They life lilfe to the fullest.  Yet they cannot afford not to be completely prepared and vigilant.

As individuals we need to become  Israeli in our attitudes and approach to life.   Be aware.  Be prepared. But refuse to live with hatred and anger.  In trying to live with this dynamic tension, we will remain alive to the beauty and splendor of life itself.